How much do we love our backpacking in the Pacific Northwest? So much that one popular destination is only accessible by lottery.
The Enchantments, a series of lakes and granite peaks outside Leavenworth, is an insanely well-loved stretch of the outdoors. In early fall, its larch trees are a stark orange against the rocky landscape and mountain goats crowd the area. Hikers test their mettle along Gnome Tarn, Troll Sink, and Aasgard Pass, which both sound and look like Lord of the Rings locales.
The Alpine Lakes Wilderness spot is pretty fragile, so the U.S. Forest Service controls access from June 15 to October 15. Permits are distributed by online lottery; each entry is $6, then each hiker is charged $5 per night if they win. The number of permits issued per night varies by location (there are five zones within the Enchantments) and date, but generally only a few parties are allowed in the region.
Enter online here by midnight tonight, or bank on the summer drawings in Leavenworth, where a few extra permits are released every day. The most popular weekends are in September, when the trees turn and the snow pack has receded enough to allow full access. May the odds be ever in your favor.